The old Gods would be so proud.
In Denmark on the island of Fyn in a very small village called Korinth, it has the first Ásatrú temple been built in 1,000 years in Denmark. The temple has been built in a Nordic style with dragon heads just like they have on Norwegian stave churches, the temple is only made from wood and inside the temple there stand four large tree trunks that weigh almost two ton a piece.
These four tree trunks are of course from ash trees, which is the same wood as the world tree Yggdrasil is made of.
In Iceland, there is also a similar project underway to built a Ásatrú temple, and I personally look forward to seeing it one day myself. When I was at the Ásatrú temple in Korinth, it was a sunny day with blue sky, as if the Gods smiled down on us with joy to see us connecting with our old faith and our roots.
The Norse gods are making a strong comeback after a thousand years in the shadows. Outmaneuvered by Christianity around year 1000, Nordic paganism is now Iceland’s fastest growing religion. From 570 members in 2002, the ‘association of the faith of the Æsir’ – Ásatrúarfélagið – now numbers 3900 Icelanders, making it the largest non-Christian religion in the country.
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” High priest Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson told the Guardian. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
The pantheistic religion appeals to modern individualism while upholding traditional Icelandic values like honesty, tolerance and respect towards the environment.
Although long in the making, the Ásatrúarfélagið’s first temple is finally expected to stand ready by the end of 2018. It is designed by Icelandic architect and member of the association Magnús Jensson and given a form to underscore a close relationship to earth, sky and sun. The temple will hold a maximum of 250 people for religious ceremonies and concerts.
Although the temple, called Hof Ásatrúarfélagsins, will be Iceland’s first in 1000 years it is likely not to be the last. The land was donated by the city of Reykjavik, and other municipalities have shown interest in having temples built, seeing perhaps the potential allure of tourism. Similarly, Denmark consecrated a temple called Valheim Hof to Odin for the first time in a millennium in 2016.
The new Pagan temple will represent the religion’s devotion to nature. It will be built atop a hillside that overlooks the city of Reykjavik, with a large dome that will let the sunlight decorate the temple walls. They will worship their gods like Thor and Odin, and observe the ancient ritual of the Blot feast.